Contaminated land remediation and reuse can provide ecosystem services, the life-sustaining benefits that people receive from nature such as clean air and water, flood control, climate regulation, recreational opportunities, etc. Soil amendments such as municipal biosolids, animal manures and litters, sugar beet lime, wood ash, among others, are being increasingly used in soil remediation, revegetation, reuse, and ecological revitalization of contaminated properties. In addition to reducing exposure to contaminants at these sites, soil amendments also provide important ecosystem services by restoring soil quality though balancing pH, adding organic matter, increasing water holding capacity, re-establishing microbial communities, and reducing soil compaction. Another important ecosystem service or co-benefit of using soil amendments for remediation is terrestrial carbon sequestration, the process through which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is absorbed by trees and plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in soils and biomass.
To date, little research has been published evaluating and quantifying terrestrial carbon sequestration benefits associated with contaminated lands remediated with soil amendments (i.e., Superfund sites, Brownfield sites, etc.). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a field study and modeling exercise on contaminated land. For the field study, EPA collected and analyzed samples at three field sites to quantify soil carbon sequestration rates after treatment with soil amendments. As part of this study, EPA developed a methodology for field sampling and analysis of carbon in soils at amended sites. EPA's modeling project involved predicting changes in four ecosystem services as a function of remedy implementation activities.
This seminar will discuss the importance of the use of soil amendments in the context of soil health and ecosystem services and provide details about the EPA field study and modeling exercise.